Making an independent film ain't easy. I've been there - several times. There's not always pay involved, even for above-the-line crew ("above-the-line" or "ATL" means the creative forces behind the production - so, a screenwriter, a director, a producer, etc.). For some creative endeavors, you may have to accept working for free - especially if you're just starting out in the industry.
But if you're a thrifty person - or even if you're not - you can figure out a way to make ends meet without worrying about trying to get a loan, paying back investors, or opening up another line of credit. Where there's a will, there's a way, and who has more WILL to get their dreams to become reality than filmmakers? Read on to discover our best tips and tricks to creating your next masterpiece for free or virtually no money.
Friendship is Magic
As The Beatles once sang, "[you] get by with a little help from [your] friends" (yeah, yeah, we edited it a bit for our purposes!). Take their advice, and ask your friends and family for help. Do you have a friend who knows how to sew and can make your much-needed 18th-century costumes? Do you have a cousin with an amazing property you can use for a location? Do you have any hair/makeup artist friends, or do you know someone who can cook and be in charge of crafty? The best advice I can give to folks - no matter WHAT industry they're in - is to think strategically, i.e., think smart! Utilize all the resources you have at your disposal - you'll be surprised by how many folks actually want to help you make a movie!
There's No Shame in Being Broke
This is a hard one for me - I truly need to take my own advice. I hate asking for money, unless it's pretty common practice in a certain field, like filmmaking. You'd be hard-pressed to find any independent filmmaker that didn't ask for money in some form or another, whether it's from investors who have the liquidity, or by simply holding a crowdfunding campaign on websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter (hint: I like Indiegogo better, because you can keep all the money you raised vs. Kickstarter, where if you don't meet your goal, you don't make ANY money). According to Lifewire, "Kickstarter applies a 5-percent fee to the total amount of funds collected as well as a 3 to 5-percent payment processing fee...Indiegogo charges just 4 percent in fees on the total money you raise if you end up meeting your goal. But if you don’t met your fundraising goal, you are charged 9 percent of the total money raised." The only boone with Kickstarter - to me, anyway - is that it's more well-known.
You can also fundraise in other ways - ways in which no one takes a cut, but you! However, if you hold a fundraising event with entertainment, food/drinks, etc., keep in mind that the money you spend on the event will need to be worth it, i.e., you should make SOME sort of profit off of your fundraising event for your film, AND be able to pay yourself back for the money you spend on the event itself.
So, that's it! Those are our two quick tips that should help you be well on your way to making your first-ever (or second-ever, or third-ever...) independent film! Tell us in the comments the thrifty ways or methods you've discovered you can utilize for filmmaking!